Having been in the film industry for more than two decades and worked with some of the most prolific directors like SS Rajamouli, Puri Jagannadh and AR Murugadoss across various languages, Rahul Dev feels that his potential hasn’t yet been ustilised completely.
“I wonder why Bollywood writers don’t see me as a UPite. If a Rajamouli can cast me as a Naxalite and Telugu, which I don’t even look like at all but I somehow managed to pull it off for Simhadri, then why can’t I be cast as UPite despite knowing the language? I was born and raised in Delhi. I speak Hindi beautifully. My English is not so bad. Punjabi, Haryanvi are all the languages that come naturally to me. So, why is it so restrictive? In fact, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada or Malayalam are unheard of languages for me being brought up in Delhi,” said Rahul.
“Even though I’m from a very educated background, we used to have this Delhi mindset that all these languages are the same. Strangely, I did my engineering in Karnataka and at that time I had no clue that I’d be doing 17 films in their language. I have done about 30 films in Telugu, 15 films in Tamil, and two Malayalam films with legendary Mohanlal.”
However, things are changing for the better with the arrival of OTT platforms, Rahul said. “I have definitely been getting to experiment. I played a Sikh in Operation Parindey then I played a comical Punjabi retired Subedar in Who’s Your Daddy. They are not path-breaking projects but it’s an achievement for me because I got stereotyped in negative roles as typecasting of actors was so strong when I had started. But, this generation is very benevolent and kind that is giving all kinds of opportunities and roles to all kinds of people because they truly feel that it’s about the part and the actor.”
Rahul will next be seen in ZEE5’s murder mystery Raat Baaki Hai, which revolves around the story of a writer who is accused of killing his fiancee. In the film, Rahul plays an investigating officer. Raat Baaki Hai also stars Annup Sonii, Paoli Dam and Dipannita Sharma.
When asked about what attracted him to Raat Baaki Hai, the actor said, “It’s a character-driven film. The screenplay is driving the story forward and there’s no lead as such. Also, it’s a very balanced story. I was really glad that Avinash Das was directing the film because I loved his direction in ‘She’. I have worked with Samar (Khan, producer) before in The Test Case and he wrote a wonderful character for me in that series. So, it was a wonderful association overall. The whole process was very collaborative.”
The actor said he took inspiration from his father, Hari Dev, for the role. Rahul’s father was a decorated police officer. “He was the recipient of two Gallantry awards from two different Presidents. He was the legend in his own right. I have used words from his vocabulary. I remember I got stuck during an interrogation scene in the film so I instinctively recalled words from his vocab.”
Raat Baaki Hai will be streaming on ZEE5 on April 16, 2021.